Judging other parents on their parenting choices is a trap that most of us have fallen into at one point or another. Whether it is one mom’s choice to turn to formula in the face of breastfeeding difficulties, or a parent’s choice to co-sleep, the anonymity of the internet has made it too easy for parents to gang up on one another.
It may have something to do with the need most moms feel to be doing “the right things, the right way”. If we breastfeed and we don’t co-sleep, surely someone doing the opposite must be doing something wrong. If what they are doing isn’t wrong, well, then it calls into question our own judgement and parenting choices. And we can’t have that.
Here’s the thing, there are very few things in this world that can only be considered right if done one way; except for making a PB&J sandwich of course. Then the crusts must always come off!
Recently, there has been a lot of media coverage about parents facing jail time because of their parenting choices. And while many of these instances are much more cut-and-dry, it begs the question, is charging a parent with a crime really the best solution?
Debra Harrell is a single mom working at a McDonalds in South Carolina. Usually her nine-year-old daughter stays with her at McDonalds for the entirety of her shift. Harrell allowed her daughter to make the 1.5 mile walk to a park near the McDonalds and gave her a cellphone in case of an emergency.
The incident was reported to police and Harrell is now being charged with unlawful conduct towards a child and her nine-year-old is in custody of Child Protective Services.
I know that times have changed, and that letting your child spend hours on end at a park by himself may no longer be seen as acceptable. But that is how I spent most of my summer days. And even if we can all agree that what Harrell did was unsafe, is the best solution really to put her in jail and her daughter in State custody? Why not work towards raising the minimum wage or offer affordable, subsidized childcare, instead?
Does Harrell deserve to be put in jail for her actions? I really don’t think she does. Not that her choice was necessarily the best choice, but it seems to me that jail time and fines are not going to better the situation she found herself in.
What do you think? Does Debra Harrell deserve to go to jail and have her daughter placed in State custody?